Halal food law dropped from 2016 legislation plan

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-18 0:18:01

Drafting of halal food standards law dropped from 2016 legislation plan

The drafting of a law on halal food was not listed in China's legislative work plan for 2016, after meeting with mixed reactions from the public, including from scholars who believe the law would open the door to allowing the secular government to have authority over religious issues.

The Legal Affairs Office of the State Council announced in March that China had been studying whether to draft the law, years after the State Council first tasked the Ethnic Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) to draft a national regulation on halal food in 2002.

The committee suggested speeding up passage of the legislation in 2012 and 2015, saying that the legislation was "reasonable and necessary" as it relates to "national unity and social stability."

The legislation was opposed by many scholars, including Xi Wuyi, an expert on Marxism at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who said it "violates the principle of separation of State and religion."

It was not clear whether drafting of the law had been rescheduled or withdrawn from consideration.

Several Muslims destroyed the facilities of a bakery in Xining, Northwest China's Qinghai Province in May 2015 after discovering non-halal items such as pork sausages and ham in its delivery van. In the same month, hundreds of Muslims in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province also took to the streets to demand a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages - which are forbidden by the Koran - at local halal restaurants.

According to an official from the religious affairs department of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region quoted in a report by Legal Daily, at least 20 million Chinese from several ethnic minority groups eat halal food, so it is necessary to have national legislation on halal products.

However, Wei Dedong, vice dean of the School of Philosophy at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Sunday that the most important solution is not a national law, but rather stronger enforcement of present laws on food safety and other issues that are applicable to the regulation of the halal food market, as many provincial regions including Xinjiang have already implemented local regulations on halal food.

Wei also noted that a unified standard could be issued by religious authorities, instead of by a national law, which would authorize the secular government to define Islam-related issues.

Newspaper headline: Drafting of halal food standards law dropped from 2016 legislation plan

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